I learned about Breaking Barrier from my late daughter Lara. She worked at the Red Cross as a case worker for asylum seekers and refugees and she had referred clients to Breaking Barriers. She told me they were looking for volunteers, but with no experience in this field other than what I was learning from her, I had some doubts that I could be of use.
What struck me the most, when I attended the training session, was the statistics of the extremely high level of unemployment among refugees, who have a right to work. It occurred to me that broader barriers than just the hostile environment may be responsible for the lack of employment of those who have entitlement to work. It is some of these other barriers that Breaking Barriers is trying to address. Because of my background as a University Lecturer, I have had the pleasure of talking to and advising many people who are either interested in further education or are trying to ensure that they can use their education credentials and experience gained abroad to make successful job applications.
Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks in CVs and application letters in making a difference in getting to the interview stage and I work with Breaking Barriers’ clients to do this. We also work together to identify resources and discuss ‘cultural standards and norms’ which will allow them to strengthen their applications. I strongly admire people like Breaking Barriers staff (as my daughter did) that dedicate their whole work life to helping refugees to find the peace, independence and self-respect they deserve.
I hope that my small contribution as a volunteer can contribute to the great job that Breaking Barriers is doing.